Plastic rice concerns surface again in Vietnam

By Trung Hieu, Thanh Nien News

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The rice grains suspected to be "fake" smell like burned plastic and become sticky after being fried. Photo: Trung Hieu
A consumer told Thanh Nien she suspected that a batch of rice she had bought recently might have been mixed with fake, plastic rice. 
Ngo Hoang Phuong Dong of Tan Binh District said Wednesday she bought 20 kilograms of rice at a store in Phu Nhuan District four days earlier.
When she steamed the rice using her rice cooker, many of the grains appeared to be uncooked. Thinking that the cooker was broken, she bought a new one and once again could not cook the rice properly.
She then selected some of the uncooked grains and put then into a frying pan. After being fried for five minutes, the grains started to melt and burn like plastic. 
She said plastic rice may have been mixed in the rice batch.
On Thursday, she brought samples of the rice to Vietnam's Quality Assurance and Testing Center No. 3 (Quatest 3) for a test. The result will be announced within 10 days.
A bowl of normal rice (R) and abnormal rice after being fried. The normal rice do not stick together. Photo: Trung Hieu 
The rice store where Dong bought the dubious rice batch said it bought the rice from another seller in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.
It said it had sold 700 kilograms of the rice to 30-40 customers but Dong is the only one who reported about the suspected plastic rice.
Also on Thursday, a team of market management officers in Phu Nhuan District visited the rice store and took samples of the rice for testing.
Pham Van Du, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the “fake rice” may be not plastic.
The unusual burning could have been a result of an excessive use of growth-boost chemicals by farmers or preservatives by traders during storage, he said.
In 2012, there were also rumors about fake rice but tests later dismissed the claims, he said.

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